Strike in Haiti: Support Needed

By Rapid Response Network

Today, Haitian garment workers are going on strike to demand 500 gourdes ($7.94 for 8 hour work day)!

This follows last Thursday’s (5/11) work stoppage and shut down of the SONAPI Industrial Park in Port Au Prince.

From that action, union organizer, Telemarque Pierre, was fired without reason from his position at Premium Apparel factory, which produces for Gildan, and owned by Clifford Apaid.

In a statement shared with the RRN, organized workers said:

“The Fight for social justice will continue!… The firing of our comrade is an act of repression, intimidation and interference in the fundamental rights of workers to organize concerted activities to defend their economic and social interests.”

So now workers are striking for a decent wage, and also for the re-hiring of Telemarque Pierre!

Reports from Haiti say that police presence is high, and workers will brave strong repression for the strike.

(More background info).

Please stand with these workers TODAY. 

Ways to take action:

1) Use the following contacts to Voice Workers’ Demands (Talking Pts Below)
a.  Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST), Haiti: maffairesocial@yahoo.fr

b.  AGA Corporation (Parent corp of Premium Apparel factory):  305-592-1860

c.  Gildan (international clothing brand that contracts with Premium Apparel factory):
Jason M. Greene, Director of Supply Chain: 843-606-3750
Corporate office (Montreal): 866-755-2023
Customer Service (Charleston, SC): 843-606-3600
Email: info@gildan.com
Twitter: @GildanOnline; facebook.com/GildanOnline/

Talking Points:
– I’m calling/emailing in support of Haitian garment workers’ demands for a minimum wage of 500 gourdes ($7.94).

– I also support union organizer, Telemarque Pierre, who was unjustly fired from Premium Apparel for exercising his right to union organizing. Rehire Telemarque Pierre!

– I disagree with the minimum wage of 265 gourdes ($4.21) that the Association of Haitian Industrialists is pushing for.

– Pay workers 500 gourdes ($7.94)!

2) Send solidarity statements directly to the garment workers. Let them know you took action: batay@batayouvriye.org

3)  Share, Post, Tweet.  Tag RRN
#RehirePierre #SolidarityForever #500Gourdes
Twitter – @RRNsolidarity
Facebook – @Rapid Response Networ
Background Info:

On Thursday, May 11, garment workers shut down the SONAPI Industrial Park in Port au Prince to demand increased wages.  These efforts were organized by the Port Au Prince trade union, SOTA-BO (Union of Textile & Apparel Workers), along with PLASIT-BO, an association of autonomous textile trade unions in Haiti, affiliated with Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight).

The mobilization started in the morning with a work stoppage, followed by a sit in.  The national police were called as more workers joined the mobilization, demanding 500 gourd ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday).

In response to this action, on Saturday, May 14th, Premium Apparel factory owner, Clifford Apaid, fired Telemarque Pierre, the General Coordinator of SOTA-BO and spokesperson for PLASIT.  Further, ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association), Better Work Haiti (a labor practices monitoring agency), and the USDOL (U.S. Department of Labor) have denounced “acts of violence” they claim were committed against property and people during the day of the mobilization.

What about the daily violence of wage theft, harassment, and threats for organizing for your rights?  What about the violence of not being paid enough to eat?  This is repression in the interest of profit.

Haitian garment workers live in crushing poverty and are paid the lowest wages in the Western Hemisphere.  These wages are mostly absorbed by workers’ transportation costs, to and from work, pushing them into debt to afford the basics – food, water, rent.

Wage theft, harassment, and unwarranted firings for organizing are the norm in factories.

In 2013, Workers Rights Consortium found that the majority of workers in Haiti’s garment industry are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally owed due to widespread wage theft. A previous report found that every single one of Haiti’s export garment factories was illegally shortchanging workers.

The demand for 500 gourdes is absolutely necessary for Haitian garment workers to exist.  Please support their fight.
In solidarity and struggle,

The Rapid Response Network

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